Saturday, 31 October 2015

Moorland Forum meeting - 30 October

We had a good turnout for the meeting yesterday; thank you to all those who attended.  Here is a snap shot of the discussion.

Rural Skills and Careers was the lead topic and, with the very valuable input from the Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Land & Estates, Lantra Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park, we had a very good discussions of the issues.  The key question was, "Can the Forum add value to the initiatives that are already in place?" This is a big topic and not surprisingly we did not reach any conclusions, but we agreed that the Forum would organise a meeting to discuss the options in more depth and we will invite other key players, for example the colleges, to attend.

BTO provided an update on the progress of the Understanding Predation project.  The first of three review seminars was held on Tuesday, 27 October, and this had gone very well (see the report on the UP blog).  A striking issue from the seminar had been the diversity of the people who had attended and their willingness to engage in discussion.  The briefing that has been produced for delegates attending the seminar is recommended reading.

We considered the other ongoing and planned work.  I received the invitation to tender for the review of the Muirburn Code on Thursday morning, 29 October, and I will be asking for support with providing the response to the tender.

We discussed the Sustainable Moorland Management Review that had recommended the involvement of the Forum.  Lord Lindsay will write to the Minister for Environment to express the Forum's willingness to support this work, covering: the production of a Moorland Vision and a strategy to deliver it; and the design and delivery of large-scale and long-term experiments to support the  understanding of moorland ecosystem health.

The Forum supported the suggestion that the summer meeting should take us north and west of the Great Glen.  A proposal to visit the Sleat peninsula on Skye was put forward, but other suggestions will be welcome.

A draft of the Annual Progress Report had been circulated and I am keen to get any comments on the text.  I will be working on the presentation of this to provide a bit more impact and move on from the rather predictable presentation.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Environmental projects - how to run a better project

SNH is running a Sharing Good Practice Event to provide an opportunity for participants to share and learn from others the project management skills required to successfully run ‘on the ground’ environmental projects and projects within environmental organisations.

Environmental projects have their own challenges which Project Managers overcome in their own way.  It is envisaged that past, present and future Project Managers and Project Executives / Senior Responsible Owners will attend, as well as others with an interest in the delivery of environmental projects.

The event aims to draw in speakers from outside the environmental sector to give a broader perspective on how to successfully utilise project management techniques.

There is more information and a booking form on SNH's website.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Land Reform (Scotland) Bill

I suggest that anyone wanting a 'handy' summary of the Land Reform Bill should have a look at the briefing contained in the papers published for the meeting of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee on 2nd September.

The briefing is six pages long and starts on page 4 of the document.

Friday, 9 October 2015

A landmark day for the Forum

It feels like today has been a bit of a landmark day for the Moorland Forum. Some of the buses we have been waiting for have come round the bend on the same day, and we have held two important meetings.

Review of Sustainable Moorland Management
The long-awaited report to the Science Advisory Committee of SNH from the Review of Sustainable Moorland Management was published today, and this is of great interest to the Forum. The Report, and supporting documents, can be downloaded from the SNH website.

There is a lot of detail in the Report that will need to be sifted through, but the ten recommendations are summarised on p5 of the Report and more details of the key issues (and supporting recommendations) are provided on pp30-37. As a taster the recommendations contain:
  • Scotland’s Moorland Forum, working with its members and wider stakeholders, is asked to produce a shared vision for Scotland’s moorlands founded on environmental sustainability and critical ecological thinking and to devise a strategy for delivering this. 
  • SNH is asked to work with Scotland’s Moorland Forum to design and deliver large-scale, long-term experiments to support our understanding of moorland ecosystem health.
However, this is not yet a call for action. Discussions are taking place between SNH and the Scottish Government about how this work is to be resourced, and I will provide an update about any action that we can get on with at the Forum meeting, on 30 October.

Understanding Predation - Steering Group Meeting
The Project's Steering Group met and received a presentation from the Research Group about the working draft report that has been circulated to them. Discussion took place about the management and presentation of the data that have been collected from the review of the science, the questionnaire and the workshops. There was complete agreement about how the Report could be refined. 

We also discussed the Project Review Seminars, which will take place on 27 Oct, 3 Nov and 12 Nov, and how these will be structured. See the Understanding Predation blog for more details.

I will provide more detail about this meeting, next week, on the Understanding Predation blog and there will be a progress update at the Forum meeting on 30 October.

Chairman's Working Group Meeting
This meeting was held after the Steering Group meeting, and we discussed the agenda for the Forum meeting on 30 October. An important part of the meeting will be a discussion on Rural Skilling. I will circulate an Agenda for the meeting, next week, and this will include a briefing about the Rural Skilling part of the meeting.  

I will ask that members come to the meeting with a clear understanding of what their organisations do already towards providing skills for people in rural areas and what training is provided for the next generation. 

Muirburn Code Review
On the way back from the meetings, I was in discussion with the Scottish Government about the Invitation to Tender for the next phase of the review of the Muirburn Code. I expect to receive the Invitation next week, and I will be aiming to provide a response no later than the end of November, with a view to work starting on the agreed process, early in 2016. Again, more about this on 30 October.

I look forward to working with Members to take forward all these initiatives. It has indeed been a bit of a landmark day, and in preparation for tackling all this, I am heading for three days on the west coast for quiet contemplation and an injection of reality!